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Wristwatch buying guide


The wristwatch was invented in the 1600’s when a French mathematician used a piece of string to tie a watch to his wrist.

Timekeeping has come a long way since then. These days, watches are like mini-computers that can forecast the weather, help you find your way in the woods or even get you to class on time.

For professional adventure racer Travis Macy, 23, his watch helps with navigation and keeps his team on track during grueling multi-day races.

“If we’re doing a trekking section and we’re falling asleep on our feet, we’ll stop and sleep for half an hour,” says Macy, a former Cub Scout. “And then the whole race is hanging on my watch to wake us up!”

Dealing with that kind of pressure and the race on the line, Macy knows watches. He can teach you a lot about how to pick the best one for your time-keeping needs.


“Before you go to buy a watch, think about the features you’re looking for,” Macy says.

If hiking and camping is your thing, consider a watch with a compass and perhaps an altimeter and barometer. If you’re into jogging, find a heart-rate-monitor watch. Remember: Just because a watch is packed with features and functions doesn’t mean it’ll be easy to use. Try it before you buy to make sure it’s user-friendly.


Most modern watches use tiny quartz minerals to keep the time. When electrified, the quartz crystal vibrates a reliable 32,768 times per second; those vibrations are translated to seconds, minutes and hours. Analog watches have a standard clock-like face with two or three (or more) hands that point at numbers, which is more classic yet can be tougher to read than digital watches. Digitals continuously highlight the exact time in numerals. Some watches have dual faces with both analog and digital readouts.


If you spend much time outdoors, durability is a key factor in a watch. “Make sure it’s rugged,” Macy says. “If it has a compass swivel on top, try turning that to see if that feels like it’ll hold up. Play with the buttons. Are they easy to push? Take a look at the band and the buckle to make sure they’re flexible and will hold up to the elements.”


You want the face of the watch and the numbers to be big enough so you can see them while you’re riding a bike or running. But in general, the bigger the watch the heavier and bulkier it will be. Try to find a size that’s comfortable.

“If you’ll have only one watch, think about whether you’ll want to wear a big watch to school,” he says. “I wear the same big watch for everything, but I’ve gotten used to it. Some guys will feel more comfortable with something smaller.”


The way your watch is strapped to your wrist is important. If you’re outdoors a lot, choose a polyurethane band. These bands are waterproof, won’t hold odors and are very durable, but they can also be sticky in hot climates. Another good choice is a canvas and Velcro band, which is more breathable.

“Velcro bands keep your watch snug against your wrist and you can wash it when it’s dirty,” Macy says.

Leather bands don’t perform well in wet environments, but they look cool. Meanwhile, metal bands can sometimes pinch your skin, though they are usually super durable.


There’s nothing more helpful than going to a store and trying a watch on to see how it feels on your wrist. Of course, you’ll probably pay more at a store versus buying it on the Internet.

“Take a look online and see if you can find a better price,” Macy says. “There are search engines where you can type in the product name and a whole list of prices will come up so you can find out what’s a good price.”

If you buy online, make sure the store is reputable and beware of counterfeit or fake watches.

26 Comments on Wristwatch buying guide

  1. I got a new Expedition today, man it’s cool. It has a address / phone memory in it. I had been using my dad’s older Timex the past year after wrecking mine while swimming at camp last summer. Thanks for the suggestion Sly Fox.

  2. I got a timex expedition Christmas 2010 and it’s still working awesome. Everyone at school is always asking me the time and every time I look at my timex, its still working fine.

    • Knife Xpert 157 (aka Chad 101) // September 5, 2012 at 1:49 pm // Reply

      For someone who isnt hard on their watches timeX works great! I know lots of guys that have had Timexs for years and they still work great… But that because they are not hard on their equipment. G-shock is a watch built for tough people that are tough on their watches.

  3. Knife Xpert 157 (aka Chad 101) // August 28, 2012 at 6:46 pm // Reply

    I am the real Knife Xpert! Look at my previous comments and you will see I have always loved G-shock!


  5. Knife Xpert 157 (aka Chad 101) // July 28, 2012 at 10:38 am // Reply

    Timex all the way … now.

  6. Y’all keep saying G-Shock, but which one? There’s like a gazillion.

    • Knife Xpert 157 (aka Chad 101) // July 2, 2012 at 10:54 am // Reply

      Either a DW9052-1V Classic G-Shock watch (only $50 on Amazon) or a GW500A-1V Solar atomic G-Shock. It is about $60 to $70 on Amazon (The regular price is $120)

  7. The timex Expedition is a great watch. I have had it for year now and it is still runing strong. I got it at target for $30. The band is geting to stink but fix that by rubin baking soda on it. It has indiglo, stopwatch, three alarms, timer, and of coarse a clock.

  8. G-Shocks are teerible go with expedition g-shocks are a scam and they rip you off

    • ARCTIC COMMANDO // June 5, 2012 at 9:56 am // Reply

      Have you even tried a G-Shock? my dad had it for 8 years while he was in the Marines and he gave it to me 5 years ago. a total of 13 years that this G-shock has been in my family. G-shock is a tough watch for tough people. Timex is good if you want an every day watch. but if you want somthing that can withstand what my dad does, G-shock is the best choice.

    • Knife Xpert 157 (aka Chad 101) // June 7, 2012 at 3:45 pm // Reply

      G-Shock did not rip me off. I was just to hard on it and I was being stupid. have you even had a G-Shock before??? I will always trust Casio

  9. Knife Xpert 157 (aka Chad 101) // May 16, 2012 at 3:07 pm // Reply

    My G-Shock broke today:( I hit it REALLY hard on a piece of steel and i guess I hit it in just the right place because the inside screen broke. it still works I just cant read the screen. I think the Analog watches are a little more tougher then the digital (mine was digital) But I am going to get another because it was such a nice watch and the are still SUPER tough I guess I just did to much to mine.

  10. $11 watch at wal-mart. Works Great, waterproof to 250ish feet

    • ARCTIC COMMANDO // May 1, 2012 at 5:22 pm // Reply

      Whatever dude! as soon as you pass 5 feet of water the thing is going to leak! $15 wal-mart watches are not worth it. get a watch that is going to last!

      • I’ve had it for a few years, and on every camp out, been swimming with it, this watch holds up

    • I got a $20 watch at kmart…………..3 years ago and it has lasted forever

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